The background and Margaret Olley

image courtesy of Tweed River Gallery, Murwillumbah


 

I recently visited the Tweed River Gallery in Murwillumbah for an art day with some friends. This is now home to an amazing recreation of Margaret Olley’s home and lifetime of art. Every surface in the home was/is covered, much of which are little still life’s as seen today in her paintings. I have to confess, I have never been a huge fan of Margaret Olley’s work. Perhaps it is because I have always felt so drawn to abstract artists. Thankfully there are plenty of those to explore and ponder as one moves around an art gallery these days. However, on this day I was coming to the end of my meander through Margaret’s home and I heard two gentlemen discussing and admiring one of her paintings. They were standing back quite a distance and I heard the words… “just look at the background, that use of colour blue.” I turned, and true to these words, the blue background of the still life they were admiring just jumped out at me as though it had come to life. The colour was so intense it almost seemed to be vibrating. I stood there transfixed in a moment of art viewing wonder. My eye wandered to another painting featuring a background in greens that also seemed to be shimmering in the late afternoon light of the gallery. I felt my heart open to something connected to and coming from the viewing of the background of these simple and yet elegant still life paintings of flower arrangements. A few steps futher along and I stopped to watch a short video featuring guest speakers in Margaret’s home and the memories they had of her in that environment. It was towards the end of the video that I was again struck by words… “Margaret use to say to me, ‘this is all an illusion, just moments’.”  Again, I felt my heart open and something click. Margaret Olley was awake and aware to the truth of this reality, and she had come to this understand through art. In that moment I felt a new found respect and love of this woman and what she has left as a ‘pointer’ for the viewer in her paintings. It’s all in the background. Mx